IER

Noemi and Joel Updates

Noemi's June Graduation from IER

Noemi’s June Graduation from IER

Since 2012 PAZA supporters have rallied around 2 heart touching causes outside of our textile focus.
The first outside cause was to assist Noemi Chavez, a high school graduate from Huancarani, complete her training as a nursing technician. Her first year of the program at the Instituto de Educación Rural (IER) was voided because the government changed the certification process. Halfway through the repetition of the first year the management of her “scholarship” changed hands and monthly payments that were supposed to be deferred until after graduation became due. With 7 younger children at home her parents did not have the $60 a month for tuition, room, board, and expenses.

Top of Her Class, Noemi Gave the Graduation Speech

Top of Her Class, Noemi Gave the Graduation Speech

An S.O.S. went out on the PAZA blog and Noemi was sponsored for the last year and a half of the program and the costly certification process. The day after her June graduation she was on a bus headed to a job interview in Santiago, Chile. She returned to Independencia in August while her passport paperwork was processed, and spent much of her time working on the family farm in Huancarani. She commented that her new work place is more technologically advanced and organized than any of the hospitals where she interned.

Making Earrings at Ruraq Maki's Workshop Before Addressing the Women in Huancarani

Making Earrings at Ruraq Maki’s Workshop Before Addressing the Women in Huancarani

This empowered confident young woman took it upon herself to attend the annual district municipal budget meeting to represent the women of District 4 (which includes Huancarani). Since the enactment of the Law of Popular Participation in 1994 men have participated in the process and become adept at negotiating for funding for community development projects. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rural women.
In 2007, the budget item specified for the development of women’s crafts (including the traditional weavings) in the 9 districts of the municipality of Independencia was $925. In 2008, I attended a meeting at the Centro Sindical in Independencia where a partner non-profit organization presented a workshop to guide the women authorities to plan, request, and receive a budget of 130,000Bs. ($18,731). The share of that budget for the women of District 4 was 30,000 Bs. ($4,322). Under the current political administration that has been in power since 2010, that craft budget has not been used wisely and has decreased.

Joel Helping His Dad in the PAZA Workshop

Joel Helping His Dad in the PAZA Workshop

Noemi negotiated for 20,000 Bs. ($2,880) for the women of District 4 doubling it from the 10,000 Bs. the men were set to approve. At our workshop in Huancarani in August, she appraised the weavers of the budget meeting. Following a discussion the weavers asked if PAZA could contract the facilitator from the 2008 Centro Sindical budget workshop (who has remained a PAZA consultant) to meet with them in Huancarani to help them to reorganize their Organization of Women and make a plan for productive use of the 2015 budget.
What Noemi has accomplished in a few short months since her June graduation is proof of the ripple effect of education. Identifying herself as a professional gives her the courage to stand up and speak out. A huge thank you and hug to all of you who helped her so she can help herself and others.

Taking Time Out to Play

Taking Time Out to Play

The second outside cause was to raise funds to help with the medical expenses for 6 year old Joel Cachi who underwent surgery a year ago to remove brain tumors. Joel will travel with his mother to Cochabamba when the family can afford a medical evaluation. For lack of a physical therapist in Independencia, she was taught exercises after his surgery and during subsequent visits to the city to be able to work with him daily. Although he’s improved dramatically over the year he still drags his right leg. The medical evaluation will determine what’s next including whether or not Joel will be entering kindergarten in February. I observed him last week as he helped his father restucco the Club de Artesana workshop/PAZA store and played with the Club kids. There is something special about that little boy. He has 5 siblings and the family still struggles with debt from the surgery so I put no parameters on the $650 received in support. Joel´s father informed me that he deposited all the funds in the local financial cooperative to save for the upcoming medical evaluation. He asked if I could please put out one more call for support to help with the medical evaluation and travel expenses of around $1,600. The family asked that their sincere thanks be expressed again to George and Joyce Dutcher, Sherry Yeakel, Joe Stevens, Susie Strauss, and Ruth Scharf. Dorinda Dutcher, September 23, 2014

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June Odds and Ends

Noemi at Graduation with Her Proud Papa

Noemi at Graduation with Her Proud Papa

The Club de Artesanas leaped into action in June and there is a lot to report.

Wonderful news! Noemi Chavez Vargas graduated on Friday, June 27th with a nursing technician certification. She was able to complete a 3 year program thanks to financial assistance via this blog. Last December, graduation was suspended due to a change in a law regarding the certification of vocational institute programs. Following a frustrating 7 month wait she proudly walked on the arm of her father to take her place with her graduating class of twenty young women. The graduation ceremony was held at the Institute for Rural Education (IER) and all the families contributed to the potluck that followed the ceremony. Noemi sends a big hug and thanks to all of you who helped her achieve her dream. She graduated top of her class.

A Healthly Joel Working in my Landlord´s Garden Last Year

A Healthly Joel Working in my Landlord´s Garden Last Year

I wrote a blog posting in April asking for assistance for medical care for 5 year old Joel Cachi Chambi who was recuperating from surgery for the removal of brain tumors. Thanks to my parents, Joyce and George Dutcher; my dear friend from Olathe High, Sherry Yeakel; and a member of my Peace Corps group (B-43, ´06-’08) a total of $400 was presented to Joel’s father. Joel’s mother continues to act as his physical therapist daily and Joel’s visits to Cochabamba have gone from once a month to once every two months. The improvement of his feet coordination is not progressing as it should so the family is trying to raise $1,150 for a

Examining Crochet Samples from Pam Perkins and Victoria Johansson

Examining Crochet Samples from Pam Perkins and Victoria Johansson

battery of tests to pinpoint the problem. I told his father I would put out another request for financial assistance in the hopes that Joel will be able to enter kindergarten in February.

The Club de Artesanas leaped into action upon my return to Independencia following 2 months in the U.S. thanks to the technical assistance of friend Marian Leishman. Her 2 weeks flew by and she left the women with many works in progress. When the women or teenagers in the Club receive supplies to start a new project they must declare what they will learn. Thanks to Pam Perkins and Victoria Johansson who rushed a variety of crochet samples to me before I left the U.S., the Club members have resources they can work from for new textures.

More big news…. The Huancarani weavers will be entering the Spinzilla, spinning contest this year! Irene Schmoller founder of Cotton Clouds, told me about Spinzilla at the 2013 WARP Conference. It was the inaugural year and over 600 spinners competed on 27 teams in the U.S. At this year´s WARP Conference Irene told me Spinzilla 2014 would be open to international teams. Thanks to WARP member Marilyn Murphy our National Needlearts Association sponsoring organization will be Cloth Roads, a Global Textile Marketplace, http://www.clothroads.com who has supported us in past years by purchasing weavings.

Spinning and Knitting at a Meeting in Huancarani, 2009

Spinning and Knitting at a Meeting in Huancarani, 2009

It’s taken numerous conversations, but there was definitely enthusiasm last Sunday as a group of Huancarani weavers discussed how to organize potential participants for their team. Doña Máxima will be the team captain, and I´m hoping she´ll prepare the alpaca fleece we purchased in January to spin. National Spinning and Weaving Week, October 6-12, will be the week the teams of spinners compete to see who can spin the most yarn. We will need help to finance the expenses which are $10 per team participant ($250), and $130 for 2 trips between Independencia and Huancarani ($380). An advance THANK YOU for helping the weavers compete in this international spinning competition. Cloth Roads has handled the registration of the Independencia spinners and the registration fee. Thank you!

Buying Alpaca Fleece last January

Buying Alpaca Fleece last January

One last note of gratitude is to my parents. Joyce Dutcher has been our strongest supporter since I began working with the weavers in 2007. This year she added to the fund she began in 2008 which has become our revolving fund for being able to place orders with the weavers and offer them immediate payment. The fund has also been used for the development of new products, and for a few emergencies. Thank you, Joyce. My father, George Dutcher, made a donation with the stipulation that it will be spent on starting the soap making project. He sent me soap making books some years ago when I´d lamented about the inability of the locals to purchase bath soap because it is imported and expensive. He´s right in his assertion that it will go a long way in ills brought about by poor hygiene. Thank you, George. Dorinda Dutcher, June 29, 2015